Saturday, July 18, 2009

DTN News: Iran Daily Slams Rafsanjani Querying Poll Result

DTN News: Iran Daily Slams Rafsanjani Querying Poll Result *Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) TEHRAN, Iran - July 18, 2009: A leading hardline Iranian newspaper slammed ex-president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani on Saturday for casting doubt on the outcome of last month's presidential election a month after supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei endorsed it. Protesters attend a rally in Tehran July 17, 2009 in this image obtained from Gooya News. In apparent defiance of Iran's supreme leader, a powerful cleric declared his country in crisis after a disputed poll, and tens of thousands of protesters used Friday prayers to stage the biggest show of dissent for weeks. Clashes erupted in central Tehran between police and followers of opposition leader Mirhossein Mousavi, who still contests official results that showed hardline President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad had been re-elected by a wide margin. The Kayhan daily, whose editor is appointed by Khamenei, accused Rafsanjani of backing lawbreaking through his implicit support for the demonstrators who have clashed repeatedly with riot police and militiamen since the June 12 vote. "Mr. Rafsanjani says a great number of people cast doubt on the election. But he doesn't say why," the newspaper said. "If people have a suspicion, it is about... what's behind the riots," it added, in an allusion to accusations by regime hardliners that foreign hands have been behind the wave of protests that saw thousands take to the streets again on Friday after Rafsanjani's sermon at the main weekly Muslim prayers. Kayhan accused the former president of "repeating illogical and baseless claims" of fraud in the official election results which saw hardline incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad returned to power for a second four-year term. Rafsanjani had told worshippers: "A large group of... people in the country say they have doubts" about the election result. "We should work to address these doubts." With reformist Mohammad Khatami, Rafsanjani is one of two former presidents who supported Ahmadinejad's main challenger, moderate former premier Mir Hossein Mousavi, in the election. Mousavi, who was at Tehran university to hear Rafsanjani's sermon, has described the vote as a "shameful fraud." Rafsanjani's continued questioning of the election outcome weeks after the supreme leader endorsed it in a sermon at the same Tehran prayers on June 19 was a mark of the huge rift opened up within the Islamic regime. But Kayhan took issue with the former president's description of the situation as a "crisis." "Mr Hashemi knows what crisis means... but plot is the best word to describe the current situation," the paper said. Rafsanjani, who remains powerful as the head of Iran's main political arbitration body and the chairman of the council which oversees the work of the supreme leader, had called in his sermon for all sides to forge a consensus on how to resolve the "crisis" over the election. "If we can provide a consensus, then this sermon will be the beginning of a change in the future. We will leave behind this problem which we can say is a crisis," he said. But a prominent cleric who is a member of the electoral watchdog, the Guardians Council, which upheld the poll result, rebuked Rafsanjani for his focus on popular legitimacy. "The legitimacy of the government is given by God," the ISNA news agency quoted Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi as saying. "Acceptance by the people doesn't bring legitimacy to (an Islamic) government. Mr Hashemi Rafsanjani ignored this important Islamic point and talked in both parts of his sermon yesterday as if governments are assigned only by the people." Thousands of supporters of Ahmadinejad's defeated challengers defied a ban on unauthorised public gatherings to demonstrate around Tehran University after Rafsanjani's sermon. They were confronted by riot police and militia, who detained several people, including leading lawyer and women's rights campaigner, Shadi Sadr, witnesses said. Foreign media were banned from covering the prayers, something that Rafsanjani took issue with in his sermon. Kayhan accused Rafsanjani of backing the protests, which regime hardliners say have left at least 20 people dead and many scores wounded. The former president "openly backed lawbreakers," the newspaper charged. "He should have condemned the killing of innocent people, the looting of their belongings and the arson against public property. But he did not."

DTN News: Indonesia Links Fugitive Leader To Jakarta Blasts

DTN News: Indonesia Links Fugitive Leader To Jakarta Blasts *Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) JAKARTA, Indonesia - July 18, 2009: Senior Indonesian counter-terror officials say a wanted Malaysian national is behind the recent twin bomb blasts in two luxury hotels in Jakarta.
Indonesian soldiers stand guard outside the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia, Saturday, July 18, 2009. Investigators worked Saturday to identify a pair of suicide bombers who attacked two American luxury hotels in Indonesia's capital, and health officials confirmed at least four of the dead were foreigners.
The Indonesian Security Ministry's anti-terror desk chief, Ansyaad Mbai, said on Saturday that "the attacks were clearly linked to Noordin Mohammed" who is wanted for plotting the Bali bombings of 2002.
Indonesian police say the homemade bombs used in the attack were identical to those used in previous attacks linked to Noordin.
The fugitive militant is already wanted by Malaysian and Indonesian authorities for his alleged involvement in several bomb attacks in Jakarta and Bali. Noordin also known as TOP was said to be a key recruiter and financier for the Jemaah Islamiah militant group and is now thought to have set up his own splinter group.
The attacks on the Marriott Hotel and the nearby Ritz-Carlton Hotel in central Jakarta's business district on Friday killed at least nine people and injured more than 50 others.
Five foreigners are known to be among the dead while several more were taken to hospitals for treatment. Jakarta has been targeted by militants several times over the past years.
The deadly attacks on two clubs in Bali in October 2002 killed 202 people including several Australian tourists

DTN News: Secret US-Israeli meeting to focus on Iran

DTN News: Secret US-Israeli meeting to focus on Iran *Source: DTN News / PressTV
(NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW, Russia - July 18, 2009: Amid reports that Israel is preparing to bomb Iranian nuclear sites, political heavyweights in Washington and Tel Aviv make plans for a secret get-together.
An Israeli warship arrives at an Israeli navy base in the Red Sea resort city of Eilat on July 15
Ria Novosti reported on Friday that US Defense Secretary Robert Gates is planning to visit Tel Aviv within the next two weeks to discuss a whole range of international issues, including Tehran's nuclear case, in secret meetings with the Netanyahu government.
US Middle East envoy, George Mitchell, will reportedly accompany Gates. The secret meetings come at a time when two Israeli warships, the Hanit and the Eliat, sailed through the Suez Canal within cruise-missile range of Iran earlier in the week.
A senior Israeli defense official, in a Thursday interview with the Times, said the move should be seen as serious preparations for a long-expected Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear sites. "This is preparation that should be taken seriously.
Israel is investing time in preparing itself for the complexity of an attack on Iran," said the Israeli defense official, who was speaking on condition of anonymity. "These maneuvers are a message to Iran that Israel will follow up on its threats," he added.
The move came ten days after a submarine -- believed to be nuclear-armed -- made a similar crossing and headed from the Mediterranean to the Red Sea.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has brought Israel closer to war with Iran, ever-since he made his politiical comeback in February. Tel Aviv, the possessor of the sole nuclear arsenal in the Middle East, accuses Iran of secretly enriching weapons-grade uranium to attack Israel.
Tehran has asserted that its uranium enrichment is a peaceful drive to produce electricity. Washington has so far remained undecided in its response to speculations that Israel is gearing up for go-it-alone air strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities.
Vice President Joe Biden, in a recent interview, openly suggested that Washington would not stand in the way of an Israeli attack on Iran.
"Israel can determine for itself... what's in their interest and what they decide to do relative to Iran and anyone else," Biden said. "We cannot dictate to another sovereign nation what they can and cannot do when they make a determination -- if they make a determination -- that they're existentially threatened."
The remarks were widely interpreted as a long-sought green light for Israel to go ahead and take out Iran's nuclear infrastructure.
US President Barack Obama was quick to make an attempt to correct the impression, saying that he opposed military action against Iran and instead wanted a diplomatic solution to the nuclear standoff.

DTN News: Over 5,000 Pirates Operate Off Somali Coast ~ Russian Navy

DTN News: Over 5,000 Pirates Operate Off Somali Coast ~ Russian Navy *Source: DTN News / RIA Novosti
(NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW, Russia - July 18, 2009: At least five large groups of pirates totalling over 5,000 people are operating in the Gulf of Aden, the first deputy chief of the Russian Navy General Staff has said. Suspected Somali pirates raise their hands in their skiff during their arrest by Marines from NATO's Portuguese frigate Corte-Real in the Gulf of Aden June 22, 2009. Eight Somali pirates armed with rocket-propelled grenades and AK-47s were caught in a high-speed chase by the NATO alliance's Portuguese warship Corte-Real after they tried to attack a merchant vessel in the Gulf of Aden. Picture taken June 22, 2009. “Pirates have become more daring and aggressive recently - there were instances when they seized vessels right in front of the ships that were responsible for the security of commercial shipping,” Vice Admiral Oleg Burtsev said in an interview on Ekho Moskvy radio station Saturday. According to the United Nations, Somali pirates collected $150 million in ransom payments from ship owners last year, while overall losses from piracy were estimated at $13-16 billion, including the soaring cost of insurance and protection for vessels, as well as sending ships on longer routes to avoid high-risk areas. Somali pirates said Saturday they had released a German ship after receiving a ransom of $1.8 million. The German foreign ministry also confirmed that a German-owned ship had been released. Around 35 warships from the navies of 16 countries are currently deployed off Somalia’s coast to counter frequent pirate attacks on vital commercial lanes. The Russian Navy joined international anti-piracy efforts off Somali coast in October 2008. Three warships have so far participated in the mission - the Baltic Fleet’s Neustrashimy (Fearless) frigate, and the Pacific Fleet’s Admiral Vinogradov and Admiral Panteleyev destroyers. A new task force from Russia’s Pacific Fleet, comprising the Admiral Tributs destroyer with two helicopters, a salvage tug, a tanker, and a naval infantry unit, will arrive in late July in the Gulf of Aden to join the operations. Italian Navy officials lead suspected Somali pirates out of their military vessel MV Maestrale at the Kenyan Port of Mombasa, June 25, 2009, where they handed them to the Kenyan police for prosecution. Police said the nine suspected pirates were arrested by the Italian Navy as they tried to hijack a vessel MV Maria on May 23, 2009 as it was sailing from Abu Dhabi to Ireland. Russia is also setting up a permanent investigation mission in the Gulf of Aden to participate in international efforts to fight piracy at sea off Somalia. The head of the Investigation Committee at the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office, Alexander Bastrykin, told reporters July 3 that the investigators “will open criminal cases and conduct probes into crimes committed by pirates in order to arrest them and put them on trial under Russian law”.

DTN News: 2 Suspected Militants Killed American In Mauritania ~ State Security

DTN News: 2 Suspected Militants Killed American In Mauritania ~ State Security
*Source: DTN News / AFP (NSI News Source Info) NOUAKCHOTT, Mauritania - July 18, 2009: Two suspected Islamist militants arrested after a shoot-out in the Mauritanian capital were the same men who murdered an American last month, the head of state security said Saturday. Senegal Dozens of Islamic activists freed from jail during a failed coup attempt against Mauritania's pro-West leadership have surrendered and are back in custody, an official of the Arab-dominated west African nation said Friday. "The two people arrested Friday night were the killers of the American, Christopher Leggett," Mohamed Lemine Ould Ahmed, whose service is part of the interior ministry, told a press conference. "They belonged to a cell of four people who have all been arrested, with the other two having been taken into custody on June 27," he said, adding that they had come from an Al-Qaeda zone in the north of Mali.

DTN News: French Agents Held In Somalia To Be Tried ~ Rebel Official

DTN News: French Agents Held In Somalia To Be Tried ~ Rebel Official
*Source: DTN News / AFP (NSI News Source Info) MOGADISHU, Somalia - July 18, 2009: Two French agents held by rebels in Somalia will be tried soon under Koranic Sharia law, an official of the radical Islamic Shebab rebel group told AFP. Islamic rebels patrol the streets of Mogadishu July 17, 2009. Al Qaeda-linked fighters in Somalia's al Shabaab rebel group are battling to oust President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, himself a former Islamist insurgent who joined a peace process last year. "The men were caught assisting the apostate government and their spies, so that they will soon be tried and punished under Sharia law," the senior Shebab official said on condition of anonymity. "They will face the court for spying and entering Somalia to assist the enemies of Allah." The two agents, in Somalia to aid the beleaguered transitional government, were snatched at gunpoint from their hotel in central Mogadishu early Tuesday.

DTN News: Japan Keeps Eye On Chinese Buildup, N. Korea's Future

DTN News: Japan Keeps Eye On Chinese Buildup, N. Korea's Future
*Source: DTN News / AFP (NSI News Source Info) TOKYO, Japan - July 18, 2009: Japan said July 17 vigilance was needed on China's naval activities and the risk that North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il's ailing health could lead to instability in the nuclear-armed state. North Korean soldiers clap their hands as its leader Kim Jong-il (not in picture) visits the navy's 597 unit at an undisclosed location in North Korea in this undated picture released by the official KCNA news agency on July 18, 2009. KCNA did not state when the picture was taken. The Korean characters read,"Let's defend to the last with our lives the core group of the revolution headed by the great comrade Kim Jong-il!". "We need to keep watch of China's maritime activities," the defense ministry said in an annual white paper. "Given the modernization of China's navy and air force, it is expected that their capability will expand beyond China's adjacent waters," it said, noting recent cases of Chinese vessels passing close to Japanese territorial waters. The ministry also voiced concern about uncertainty over the North Korean leader's ailing health and who will succeed him. "We cannot exclude the possibility that the regime will destabilize in [a] time of a change in the power structure that may take place in the near future," the white paper said. "We need to keep a close eye on developments in North Korea, considering the ramifications of Kim Jong-Il's health problem and the succession issue," added the report, which was approved by at a Japanese cabinet meeting July 17. Japan, along with the United States, pushed hard for tough sanctions after the North's April 5 long-range rocket launch and after its second underground atomic test May 25, which was followed by a series of missile launches. The defense ministry report also renewed Japan's claim over islands disputed with South Korea. The Takeshima islets, called Dokdo in Korea, are an "integral part of Japanese territory," the white paper said. South Korea reacted angrily July 17 to the renewed assertion of sovereignty over the islets, which are controlled by South Korea but have been claimed by Tokyo since the early 20th century. "We strongly protest Japan's description of Dokdo as part of Japanese territory and demand an immediate correction by the Japanese government," the South Korean defense ministry said in a statement.

DTN News: Turkey, Telespazio Ink Satellite Deal

DTN News: Turkey, Telespazio Ink Satellite Deal
*Source: DTN News / Defense News (NSI News Source Info) ANKARA, Turkey - July 18, 2009: Turkey's defense and procurement authorities have finalized a critical deal with an Italy-based company for the construction and launching of the country's first military satellite. The 250 million-euro ($390 million) contract was signed here July 16 at a ceremony attended by top Turkish officials and company representatives. The attendees included Turkish Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul and chief procurement official, Murad Bayar. Turkish officials earlier said they would start contract negotiations with Telespazio, a unit of Italy's defense giant Finmeccanica, for the satellite program, dubbed Gokturk. The contract signing completed the tender process. The agreement covers the supply of an Earth-observation satellite equipped with a high-resolution optical sensor, an integration and test center for satellites to be built in Turkey, and the entire ground segment of the system, which will carry out in-orbit operation, data acquisition and processing. Telespazio is the prime contractor. Thales Alenia Space, owned by French Thales (67 percent) and Finmeccanica (33 percent), will be responsible for the satellite. Local industrial partners include Tusas Turkish Aerospace Industries, a satellite unit of the state scientific research institute TUBITAK, and defense companies Maleri, Aselsan and Roketsan. Telespazio will also be responsible for the satellite launch, early orbit and test services. Under the program, the Turkish industry will be involved at the system design and development phase and in supplying some subsystems. In particular, local partners will assist in the building of the data acquisition station, the satellite integration center, mission planning systems and remotely sensed data processors.

DTN News: Junior Jihadist Or Senior al-Qaeda Leader?

DTN News: Junior Jihadist Or Senior al-Qaeda Leader?
*Abu Zubaydah has been connected to three Canadians, including Mohamed Harkat. Determining Zubaydah's real place in the world of terrorism holds important consequences, Andrew Duffy writes.
*Source: DTN News / The Ottawa Citizen By Andrew Duffy (NSI News Source Info) OTTAWA, Canada - July 18, 2009: When the public phase of the Mohamed Harkat case begins, the epic saga of another accused terrorist -- Guantanamo Bay detainee Abu Zubaydah -- is likely to unfold as well. Zubaydah promises to be a central figure because the Canadian government says it has evidence that Harkat associated with him since the early 1990s. The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) has already presented evidence in secret to Federal Court Judge Simon Noël that allegedly ties Harkat to Zubaydah. According to a summary of that evidence, made public for the first time earlier this year, Harkat admitted in a March 1997 conversation that he knew Zubaydah personally and did not fear being contacted by him at home. In court filings, CSIS describes Zubaydah as "one of (Osama) bin Laden's top lieutenants" -- a reflection of the status accorded Zubaydah by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. But that intelligence assessment of Zubaydah is now, increasingly, under assault. Zubaydah's U.S. lawyers have launched what they call a "reclamation process" to separate fact from the dangerous fiction they say has been authored by the Bush administration to justify their client's torture. Zubaydah was waterboarded 83 times by U.S. agents and subjected to other harsh interrogation methods, according to recently released U.S. Justice Department memos. "He was not -- and never has been -- a member of al-Qaeda or the Taliban," Zubaydah's lawyer, Brent Mickum, told the Citizen in a recent interview. "Those facts are really not in doubt anymore." George Tenet, the former director of the CIA, however, has forcefully rejected the suggestion that U.S. officials overstated Zubaydah's importance. "Baloney," Tenet wrote in his 2007 memoir. "Abu Zubaydah had been at the crossroads of many al-Qaeda operations and was in position to -- and did -- share critical information with his interrogators." The 9/11 Commission Report refers to Zubaydah as "a sympathetic peer" to al-Qaeda kingpin Osama bin Laden and leader of a foiled millennial plot to blow up tourist sites in Amman, Jordan. Former U.S. President George Bush has called Zubaydah "one of bin Laden's top leaders." Mickum, however, said the truth is more complicated and much less sensational. To support his contention that Zubaydah was a minor player in jihadist circles, Mickum points to the fact that his client has not been charged with any crime and does not face a military commission trial. Zubaydah is being held without charge as an enemy combatant in Guantanamo prison. Five other "high value" detainees who played roles in the 9/11 attacks on the U.S., including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, now face criminal charges and the death penalty. Recent reports in the Washington Post and New York Times, quoting unnamed U.S. government officials, have also cast doubt on the CIA's intelligence assessment of Zubaydah. Sources told the Times that Zubaydah was not an al-Qaeda leader but rather "a helpful training camp personnel clerk who would arrange false documents and travel for jihadists, including al-Qaeda members." The Post called him a jihadist "fixer" who worked for al-Qaeda only after Sept. 11. The reports all suggest he played no role in the operational planning of al-Qaeda. Zubaydah was the victim, Mickum charges, of the same thing that led the U.S. into Iraq: rotten intelligence. "The bottom line is people have to come to realize that just as Maher Arar was a mistake, so too was Zubaydah. That's not to say that there may not be any baggage in his closet. But, I mean, he's really more akin to Bin Laden's driver (former Guantanamo detainee Salim Hamdan, of Yemen), who is free." Zubaydah is now one of the most debated figures in the intelligence world: Is he a junior jihadist tortured for his limited information? Or a senior al-Qaeda lieutenant reinventing himself as a victim to fashion an escape from prison? Determining the real meaning of Abu Zubaydah holds important consequences, both in the U.S. and Canada. Zubaydah, 38, a Saudi-born Palestinian, has been connected in court documents to dozens of terror suspects, including three Canadians: Harkat, Adil Charkaoui and Abousfian Abdelrazik. The security certificates initially filed against Harkat, in 2002, and Charkaoui, in 2003, included evidence supplied by Zubaydah. Both security certificates were reissued last year without that evidence. Abdelrazik, meanwhile, was returned to Canada last month after six years of detention and exile in Sudan. He was initially detained in Sudan at the request of CSIS, but the Canadian spy agency cleared him of any criminal activity; he remains on a United Nations terrorism blacklist, however, because of U.S. intelligence. Mickum says the cases highlight a larger trend: that Zubaydah's name is being purged from many prosecutions while other cases connected to him collapse. Mickum listed 21 former Guantanamo detainees who have been released in recent years despite being publicly linked to his client. It suggests, he says, that being associated with Zubaydah is no longer considered a serious offence. In the Harkat case, the federal government has expunged any evidence from Zubaydah himself -- the new security certificate law prohibits the use of evidence when it's reasonable to believe it flows from torture -- but continues to allege that Harkat associated with "the top al-Qaeda lieutenant" since the early 1990s. Harkat has previously denied any association with Zubaydah. Harkat's lawyer, Matthew Webber, has asked Judge Noël to order Canadian officials to update its intelligence assessment of Zubaydah, but such an order has not been issued. "There's an enormous body of material that leads one to conclude that this characterization of Zubaydah was nothing but a transparent, U.S. administration propaganda device," Webber charged. Mickum told the Citizen that he would be willing to take questions from Harkat's defence team to Zubaydah. He could then provide Federal Court an affidavit, supplying the information offered by his client. Webber said he would pursue Mickum's offer, which could put the controversial Zubaydah front and centre at Harkat's public hearing in January. Abu Zubaydah was born in Saudi Arabia in 1971 as Zayn al Abidin Muhammad Husayn. He moved to the West Bank as a teenager and was educated in India. He embraced Islam, and in 1991 travelled to Afghanistan to fight communist insurgents who continued to wage war after the 1989 withdrawal of Russian forces. On the front lines, he suffered serious head wounds in a mortar attack. He lost the ability to speak for a year and his memory was permanently damaged by shrapnel that remains embedded in his head. (His lawyer says he now suffers blinding headaches and seizures.) Zubaydah told a Guantanamo Bay legal hearing that in 1994 he became Pakistan-based "co-ordinator" for the Khalden camp, which was run by Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi (al-Libi died in Syrian custody earlier this year). The camp, Zubaydah testified, trained jihadists first to fight the Russians, then to defend Muslim lands in Chechnya and Bosnia. "I disagreed," he said, "with the al-Qaeda philosophy of targeting innocent civilians like those in the World Trade Center." As co-ordinator, he said, he managed logistics for jihadists travelling to and from the Khalden camp, and raised money to support its operation. Khalden, he said, was closed by the Taliban in 2000 because bin Laden did not want a rival camp available to jihadists in Afghanistan that was outside of al-Qaeda's control. After the Sept. 11 attacks, Zubaydah said he volunteered to be a soldier for al-Qaeda to defend Afghanistan from a U.S. invasion, but the terrorist group didn't want him. He returned to Pakistan, he said, to raise money for jihadist "brothers" who were not supported by the well-funded al-Qaeda. On March 28, 2002, U.S. and Pakistani forces raided a safe house in Faisalabad, Pakistan. Zubaydah was shot in the abdomen and groin, and within days, was flown to a secret CIA prison in Thailand where FBI agents led questioning of him. Using traditional interview methods, the agents gleaned a vital piece of information: that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was the main organizer of the 9/11 plot. Zubaydah also told authorities about José Padilla, a U.S. citizen who was later convicted of plotting to kill people overseas. Some agents believe he gave authorities all of the actionable intelligence to which he had access within months of his arrest. According to the New York Times, by the summer of 2002, interrogators began to surmise that Zubaydah was not a terrorist leader, but a well-connected travel agent for jihadists. But senior CIA officials disagreed. They continued to believe that as an al-Qaeda leader he must know more, and as a result, they sought and received legal authorization from the U.S. Justice Department in August 2002 to use harsh interrogation techniques. Zubaydah was subjected to waterboarding, a technique that simulates drowning, confined in a small box for hours at a time, and beaten. There is no evidence that Zubaydah provided his interrogators any significant new intelligence after the harsh methods were introduced -- although some in the CIA dispute that notion. The CIA destroyed 90 videotapes that depicted his interrogations. Curiously, it was a convicted terrorist with Canadian connections, former Montreal resident Ahmed Ressam, who appears to have convinced U.S. officials that Zubaydah played a leadership role in al-Qaeda. Ressam, a failed refugee claimant in Canada, was convicted in April 2001 of plotting to blow up Los Angeles International Airport; he subsequently co-operated with U.S. officials in exchange for a reduced sentence. Ressam told them Zubaydah facilitated terrorist operations, including his own. He described Zubaydah as an associate of bin Laden "equal to and not subordinate to" him. Zubaydah, however, told a Guantanamo hearing that Ressam was only a student who mistakenly believed that he controlled the training camps. "He don't know the big picture," Zubaydah insisted. (Zubaydah also admitted that he counselled Ressam: "He have ideas to make problems against Jew in Canada. I tell him if they are helping Israel, I told him this is good war. But if only Jew, it is not our headache.") Lawyer Brent Mickum contends Zubaydah's version of events has been repeatedly confirmed by the testimony of other Guantanamo detainees. Zubaydah remains one of 229 people detained in Guantanamo Bay. U.S. President Barack Obama has signed an executive order to close the prison in January, 2010, but administration officials have said some detainees could still be held indefinitely in the U.S. if they pose a threat. It's still unclear what will happen to Zubaydah, but it's possible that he could be tried in the U.S. on terrorist conspiracy charges or else sent to Jordan to be tried in connection with the Millennium bomb plot. His lawyers believe Zubaydah, who has spent seven years in U.S. custody, should be released in Saudi Arabia, where he has relatives. Argues Mickum: "Like the weapons of mass destruction and the need for war in Iraq, it is no longer shocking to find that the Bush Administration got it all wrong. Abu Zubaydah's supposed relationship with al-Qaeda is a complete myth. "In an ever-growing litany of horrors, the Bush administration simply tortured the wrong guy."

DTN News: Shanghai Airlines Takes Delivery Of Its First Airbus Aircraft

DTN News: Shanghai Airlines Takes Delivery Of Its First Airbus Aircraft *Source: DTN News / EADS N.V.
(NSI News Source Info) BLAGNAC, France - July 18, 2009: During a ceremony held at Hamburg, Germany, Shanghai Airlines has taken delivery of its first Airbus aircraft, an A321, becoming a new operator of Airbus aircraft. The aircraft is the first of 10 A321s ordered by the Shanghai-based carrier in 2006 and 2007.
Powered by IAE V2533-A5 engines, the carrier's first A321 is fitted in an all-new, comfortable two-class configuration with 178 seats (166 seats in Economy, 12 in Business Class). The aircraft will initially be deployed on domestic routes followed in the future by regional routes including Japan and Korea.
"Introducing A321s to our fleet was a strategic decision for Shanghai Airlines in anticipation of the future growth of the domestic as well as international air traffic market," said Zhou Chi, Chairman of Shanghai Airlines. "After 20 years of fast, steady and all round development, Shanghai Airlines is becoming an international airline based in the regional hub of Shanghai. The introduction of the highly reliable and efficient Airbus A320 Family aircraft will help Shanghai Airlines to expand its new base, develop domestic routes network and increase capacity in order to meet increasing passenger demand," added Zhou.
The airline was established and started operations in 1985. It was founded by the Shanghai municipal government as the first independently-run local airline in China. It was initially restricted to domestic flights, but in September 1997, it won government approval to operate international services. In October 2002, it began to issue shares on the Shanghai stock market. It launched domestic freighter services in May 2004. It is the fifth-largest airline of China in terms of fleet size. In 2006, a cargo airline, Shanghai Airlines Cargo, was established with Taiwan-based EVA Air. In its 22-year history, with the contribution of its well-recognized Flight Operations Quality Assurance(FOQA) program, Shanghai Airlines has had zero accidents, fatalities or severe damage to its aircraft, making it one of the safest airlines in Asia; and possibly the world. *
"We are delighted to welcome Shanghai Airlines as a new Airbus operator. With its all new cabin and low operational costs, the A321 will enable Shanghai Airlines to satisfy passenger needs, whilst also meeting operational requirements," said Tom Enders, Airbus President and CEO. "As a major financial centre and home of the next World Expo, Shanghai will undoubtedly experience rapid growth and we are honoured to be part of this success," added Enders.
Shanghai Airlines was set up in 1985. Headquartered in Shanghai, the carrier now operates 68 aircraft on more than 170 domestic, regional and international passenger and freighter routes linking over 60 destinations across China and around the world. Shanghai Airlines is a member of the Star Alliance.
The A320 Family is recognised as the benchmark single-aisle aircraft family. With more than 6,300 aircraft sold, and over 3,900 aircraft delivered to more than 300 customers and operators worldwide, the A320 Family is the world's best-selling single-aisle aircraft family. With proven reliability and extended servicing periods, the A320 Family has the lowest operating costs of any single aisle aircraft. The Family comprises four aircraft (A318, A319, A320 and A321) that share unique cockpit and operational commonality across the range.
The A321 is the largest member of the Airbus A320 Family. It typically seats 185 passengers in a two-class layout and has a non-stop flying range of 3,000 nautical miles or 5,550 kilometres. By the end of May 2009, almost 400 A320 Family aircraft are in operation with 12 operators in China. Chinese airlines have ordered close to 600 A320 Family aircraft in total.

DTN News: Boeing Statement On FCS Staffing Reductions

DTN News: Boeing Statement On FCS Staffing Reductions *Source: DTN News / Boeing
(NSI News Source Info) ST. LOUIS - July 18, 2009: The Boeing Company yesterday (July 17)issued the following statement regarding work force reductions on the Future Combat Systems (FCS) program: "Due to the decision by the Pentagon directing the U.S. Army to restructure the FCS program, as well as related funding reductions anticipated in fiscal year 2010, Boeing and its partner SAIC will be reducing their combined work force by approximately 30 percent. Boeing will begin issuing 60-day advance layoff notices to its employees today, July 17, at several sites nationwide. Approximately 70 Boeing employees will receive notices today. Additional notices are expected to be issued on July 31. "Boeing and SAIC are committed to preserving as many jobs as possible for these valued, highly skilled employees and the companies are taking aggressive steps to lessen the impact of the funding reductions. These steps include making every effort to redeploy FCS personnel to other programs within Boeing and SAIC, as well as reassessing contract labor requirements. The companies will work with affected employees to help them through this transition by offering career services and other assistance. "Boeing and SAIC are committed to working closely with their Army customer to implement required changes to the program in a timely and efficient manner. They will continue to support the Army in delivering these important networked capabilities to soldiers as soon as possible."

DTN News: Northrop Grumman Authenticates Keel For Newest Large-Deck Amphibious Assault Ship America (LHA 6)

DTN News: Northrop Grumman Authenticates Keel For Newest Large-Deck Amphibious Assault Ship America (LHA 6) *Source: DTN News / Northrop Grumman Corporation
(NSI News Source Info) PASCAGOULA, Miss., - July 18, 2009: Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) celebrated a significant milestone with a keel authentication ceremony for America (LHA 6), the Navy's newest class of large-deck amphibious assault ship, at the company's Pascagoula facility. Mrs. Lynne Pace, sponsor of America (LHA 6) and wife of retired U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Irwin F. Edenzon (left front), sector vice president and general manager, Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding -- Gulf Coast, thank Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding Welder James Sumlin Jr., a 37-year employee, for welding Mrs. Pace's initials onto the keel plate at the end of LHA 6's keel authentication ceremony. Also obvserving the event (L-R) U.S. Navy Cmdr. MacGregor McClellan, Chaplain, U.S. Navy Capt. Robert Howell, executive officer and director of contracts, Supervisor of Shipbuilding, Gulf Coast and U.S. Navy Capt. Jeff Riedel, program manager, Amphibious Warfare Programs, PEO Ships. "There could be nothing more exciting to me than to be a part of this ship," said Lynne Pace, ship sponsor for America and wife of retired U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In step with Navy and maritime tradition, Mrs. Pace had her initials welded onto a ceremonial steel plate noting the ship's keel had been "truly and fairly laid." "Today I'd like to thank the Northrop Grumman shipbuilders who will put their heart and soul into building this ship and making it the best in the world," she continued. "You have incredible talents, skills and craftsmanship that are needed to build the tools to help keep our country safe. For your dedication and patriotism, I thank you." LHA 6, the fourth U.S. Navy ship to bear the name America, replaces the aging Tarawa-class and represents a conscious decision to increase the aviation capacity of future big deck amphibious ships in order to maximize the Navy's investment in future aircraft. "I can think of no more fitting place or time to celebrate this new ship and all she represents on the heels of our nation's 233rd birthday in a city and a shipyard that strongly reflect the values of this great nation," said Art Divens, executive director for Amphibious & Auxiliary Ships and Craft, executive director for Program Executive Office, Ships. "Today's ceremony is especially noteworthy, for not only are we acknowledging a critical milestone in the Navy's newest ship of the line, but we are also celebrating a monumental leap forward in the strength, capability and flexibility of the Navy's amphibious fleet," Divens continued. "This ship can go in harm's way to project combat power ashore and is perfectly suited to support humanitarian assistance and other contingency missions on a moment's notice." America will be 844 feet long and 106 feet wide and weighs 44,854 tons. Its propulsion system will drive it to speeds in excess of 22 knots. It will accommodate 1,204 crew and 1,871 troops. "LHA 6 will be built by the best shipbuilders in the world," said Irwin F. Edenzon, sector vice president and general manager of Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding - Gulf Coast. "It will be built by thousands of Northrop Grumman men and women who are proud to be shipbuilders. We work everyday to design and build quality ships. The Sailors and Marines who sail in them and protect our nation's freedom deserve nothing less." "America will carry her finest into harm's way, and her ability to return them safely will depend directly on the extraordinary efforts of this Gulf Coast shipyard," said U.S. Navy Capt. Robert Howell, executive officer and director of contracts, Supervisor of Shipbuilding, Gulf Coast. "To the men and women of Northrop Grumman, whether you realize it or not, you proudly wear the cloth of this great nation. Your uniform of denim and coveralls, often covered in soot and dust after a long day at the shipyard, represent a level of commitment that few will ever truly understand. The sweat from your brow from the long hours in the heat is the sacrifice you make so that your Navy and Marine Corps brothers and sisters will be less likely to bleed in conflict. "Never let it be forgotten that it is your deft hands and skilled craftsmanship that are the key enablers to keeping the Global War on Terrorism from our shores," Capt. Howell added. America will have an extended hangar deck with two higher hangar bay areas, each fitted with an overhead crane for aircraft maintenance. The ship will also provide increased aviation fuel capacity, stowage for aviation parts and support equipment. In addition, America will be able to embark and launch the MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, cargo and attack helicopters, the AV-8B Harrier and the short take-off vertical landing (STOVL) variant F-35B Lightning II Strike Fighter. Northrop Grumman Corporation is a leading global security company whose 120,000 employees provide innovative systems, products, and solutions in aerospace, electronics, information systems, shipbuilding and technical services to government and commercial customers worldwide.